West Coast Environmental Law (WCEL) understands that the terms of reference of the MacMillan Bloedel (MB) Settlement Agreement Consultation Program include: determining whether the proposed land transfers to MB can be done without infringing aboriginal rights and title; assessing the implications of the proposed transfers, and providing advice to government respecting which of the transfers under consideration should be implemented.
For the reasons set out below, the position of WCEL is that:
- the Settlement Agreement is a serious and unjustifiable infringement of aboriginal rights and title;
- the implications of the proposed transfers are overwhelmingly negative for sustainable forest jobs, biodiversity, fish and wildlife habitat, and community well-being; and
- none of the transfers under consideration should be implemented
Furthermore, we take the position that MB’s case for compensation in the amount settled on has not been proven. We submit that British Columbia had a solid legal position to oppose the quantum of the MB claim for compensation, and strong legal arguments against paying any compensation for reduced annual allowable cut (AAC). Although a settlement has been reached in the MB case, we have made submissions on this issue because we understand that this settlement agreement may be only the first of many.